Console, Gaming, PlayStation, Review

The Last of Us Part I Review: Modernising 2013’s Game of the Year

The Last of Us was first released on the PS3 back in 2013, and it was one of Naughty Dog’s best – if not the best – games at the time. This is followed by a remastered version for the PS4 in 2014 with improved graphics and support for 60fps frame rate. Fast forward to 2022, we now have The Last of Us Part I for the PS5.

Rebuilt from the ground up for the PS5, The Last of Us Part I is easily (and naturally) the best version of the game. Not only is it the most visually appealing version, it is also a faithful remake of the critically acclaimed game that takes advantage of the PS5’s best features. It’s modernised for 2022, basically.

But The Last of Us Part I is also not cheap, especially for a remake. It’s priced at RM299, which is usually reserved for brand new AAA titles on the PS5. That is not to say this game is not worth the price of entry, but for those who have already played through the original version, that may very well be the case.

What It Is

The Last of Us Part I is really the definitive version of the game. Beyond the overhauled graphics and integration of the PS5’s excellent DualSense features, it also improved upon its gameplay mechanics for a more immersive gaming experience. Of course, it includes the Left Behind DLC too, a prequel to the main story.

As for the narrative itself, The Last of Us Part I focuses on Joel, a smuggler in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a mysterious infection. He is tasked with smuggling 14-year-old Ellie out of a quarantine zone, which sees the duo travelling halfway across the country.

One of Naughty Dog’s greatest strengths is its amazing storytelling, and it’s my favourite aspect of The Last of Us Part I. I’ll elaborate more on this in the following section.

Two versions of The Last of Us Part I are offered. The Standard Edition goes for RM299, while the Digital Deluxe Edition is priced at RM339. The latter includes early unlock of several in-game items and mods, including six weapon skins, a “Dither Punk” filter, and the speedrun mode.

Personally, I’d go for the Standard Edition. Early unlock of the in-game features are not worth the extra RM40, in my opinion. There’s also a PC version of The Last of Us Part I, though no release date has been given yet.

The Good Stuff

Whenever I think of The Last of Us – or the franchise as a whole – its engrossing narrative immediately comes to mind. The same goes for The Last of Us Part I, which remains faithful to the original game. Even though I’ve played through the game countless times, watching the story play out again is still very…riveting.

If anything, the story is that much more engaging now with the PS5’s improved graphics. The raw emotions shown by the different characters in The Last of Us Part I come across extremely well with the higher fidelity character models. Whether it’s anger, anguish, or the occasional happiness, all of these emotions are rendered in incredible detail.

Speaking of which, I’m very impressed with the revamped character models in The Last of Us Part I. Joel, Ellie, Tess, and even side characters like Henry and Sam look (almost) completely different from the original game. In a good way, of course.

These improved character models, paired with the strong voice acting of the cast, make it easy to be immersed in the narrative of the game.

Not surprisingly, graphics performance of The Last of Us Part I does not disappoint. I run the game in Performance mode to get the sweet 60fps frame rate, though there is noticeably reduction in visual fidelity (but not too much). Naturally, Fidelity mode will offer the best visuals, though the reduced frame rate doesn’t feel particularly great to play, especially in fast-paced action sequences.

Ah, action sequences. Thanks to the improved enemy AI, encounters in The Last of Us Part I feel more dynamic now; closer to The Last of Us Part II, in fact. Human enemies, for one, feel smarter, and they will actively try to flank me. There were more than a couple of times where I was caught by surprise – I don’t think I’ve experienced this as much in the original game.

Last but not least are the DualSense integrations of The Last of Us Part I. Take the refined haptics of the controller: I can “feel” raindrops when it rains, the galloping of a horse when I’m riding, and the recoil of shooting a gun. The adaptive triggers also add a sense of realism when I’m firing a weapon.

Of course, with the PS5’s fast SSD, loading times are much shorter as well. I don’t have to wait quite as long to restart encounters now.

The Bad Stuff

Despite the graphics improvement of The Last of Us Part I, it’s still not quite on the same level as, say, The Last of Us Part II. After I finished the game, I fired up Part II on the PS5 to see how the two games compare to each other. It’s not a huge difference, but I’d say Part II still looks like the newer, more graphically accomplished game.

It’s not like Part I is not a good looking game, because it is! The graphics overhaul make the 2013 game look properly modern by today’s standard. It’s just that Part II is…well, a much more modern game released in 2020.

Next, we have the AI system in The Last of Us Part I. Yes, it’s more refined now, but there were still a couple of instances where my allies did some actions that break the immersion of a tense encounter. It’s not quite as blatant as running across the enemies’ line of sight, but they do, for example, get out of cover when an enemy is nearby.

And then there’s the high price of entry. RM299 for (essentially) a game that was released back in 2013, remake or not, can be hard to justify. The fact that there’s no upgrade path for those who bought the original or remastered version of the game doesn’t feel entirely fair to existing fans either.

Is It Worth It?

If you’ve never played through the Last of Us franchise before, then The Last of Us Part I is absolutely worth it. And if you do fall under this category, I am very envious: I can only imagine how amazing it would be to experience the game for the first time ever with such high fidelity graphics and improved gameplay.

But for folks who have played through the original game, it will depend on whether or not they can accept the RM299 asking price. Yes, The Last of Us Part I is without a doubt the definitive edition of the game, but depending on who you ask, RM299 for a game they’ve played before may not be worth it.

For what it’s worth, I did thoroughly enjoy The Last of Us Part I despite my familiarity with the original games, and I’m looking forward to get back into Part II to continue the narrative. However, if you’re in no rush to experience the game again, perhaps it’s best to wait for it to drop in price.

Or maybe even wait for the PC release – I might even replay the game yet again once The Last of Us Part I is available on PC.

The Last of Us Part I launches 2 September on PS5. The PC release is coming soon.

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